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The Most Memorable Moments From Family Matters

Originally intended as a show with a different tone, this Perfect Strangers spinoff became a comedic giant after adopting a neighborhood menace, in the form of Steve Urkel. It was a character originally meant to be in one episode, but became so loved that small shorts of him were added to previous episodes he hadn't even appeared in. Steve wasn't the only character by far, as Carl (Reginald VelJohnson), Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams), Eddie (Darius McCrary), Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire), Richie (Bryton James), and even Aunt Rachel (Telma Hopkins), created a cast that helped the TGIF lineup reach incredible heights. Beginning in 1989 and running through 1998, the powerhouse sitcom offered almost a decade of Urkel asking, "Did I do that?"

The Winslows had a lot of laughs, dealt with serious problems, and toward the end got a little crazier with robots, evil dolls, and time travel. But for a lot of fans, it was great to see an African American family on their television for so long, interacting as a comedic unit. 

In their time with us though, many great moments were made, and not all of them were Urkel being completely wacky. With something new going on every week and Urkel shooting off with a jet pack to go guest star on other shows, it's hard to pin down all the show's great moments without leaving a few out. Here are some of the more memorable scenes in Family Matters scenes worth rewatching on Hulu.

American Gladiators

It was hard not including the time Steve and Carl wrestled The Bushwhackers from WWF, but a better moment came from putting the two characters on another hit sporty show from that time, American Gladiators. Aunt Rachel described American Gladiators earlier in episode one of season four, as overly macho and, "nothing but a lot of half-naked men, flaunting their muscles," which Estelle likes a little too much. After some rooftop shenanigans and use of the wrong screws, we see Eddie and Carl landing on Steve. The ensuing argument is broken up by Waldo Geraldo Faldo (Shawn Harrison), who's somehow related to Sabre, and thinks the show is the best way for the two friends to settle their differences.

Bonecrusher and Hurricane, aka Carl and Steve, are joined by Mike Adamle and Larry Csonka, as well as an assortment of Gladiators, in what works well as a recreation of the show inside an episode of Family Matters. The big moment in "Surely You Joust" comes after a couple of iconic events, leading to The Eliminator, where we see the two characters tackle the tough trial only to come out in a tie at the end. The frustration of being told they'll have to do the obstacle course over again pushes the two neighbors to apologize and keep their odd friendship, after getting their five minutes of fame on TV.

Undercover Urkel

Aunt Rachel owns her own restaurant, appropriately called Rachel's Place, where some of the other characters work. The episode "Born to be Mild" (season three episode nine) sees a gang called the Dragons, led by a ruffian named Chain, harass the employees and come back later to trash the establishment. To make matters worse, they've also jumped Eddie and left him battered and bruised. Carl is left furious, but Steve convinces him that there is a better way than just trying for a modicum of revenge that could get him in trouble as well. It's an outrageous plan, one that will send the young man undercover, inside the gang, as Urk-Man.

The big scene in the second half of the episode sees Steve go into the gang's clubhouse in his own ridiculous outfit, yelling at the hoodlums and attacking a bag of cheese puffs while telling them how "bad" he really is. Viewers get to see some ballsy attitude from the scrawny young nerd and watch as he talks a confession for all of the gang's crimes out of the big goon, just before getting caught wearing a wire. The already dangerous situation looks like it might be going to a bad place quickly when he's threatened with a knife, just before Carl and Lt. Murtaugh come in, saving the day, while being handcuffed together due to a zany sitcom reason. It's a serious moment turned funny that leaves Steve as a genuine hero for his brave act.

It's a Winslow life

This is a show that produced a couple of good Christmas episodes, but it makes sense to go with the one featuring the gimmick of trying to copy It's a Wonderful Life for some tried and true comedy (S4 E10 though Hulu has this as S4 E12). For anyone familiar with the classic, it plays out in a similar fashion, minus the antics with the snow machine before the theme song. Steve is once again trying to help Laura by offering her a ride home in his clown car after some Christmas shopping. But in his usual fashion, Steve bumbles a simple task and breaks the expensive gift she bought for Harriette, leaving Laura extremely vexed at him. After dressing him down for constantly messing up and upsetting her, she says, "I wish you knew what it was like to be me." That's when the keyboard playing angel named Tyrone P. Jackson shows up.

After learning that ABC actually stands for the Angel Broadcasting Channel, we see the way life would be if Steve and Laura switched places, with her as the annoying neighbor. It's a fun switch, letting the actors go in different directions and showing an early sign of what Stefan might be, almost an entire season before that concept was introduced. Seeing Laura pull off being Steve Urkel so smoothly, to the point of even using some of his classic lines, is something to cherish, and it offers a touching ending.

Club Buff

One might think this moment from season four, episode 21 to be about Steve again, who attempts to warn Laura that she is about to be caught in the act. He does this by becoming a stripper in a scientist outfit, but this isn't about that or his use of the word "bazooms," it's an entry for the ladies. Laura's friends, Maxine (Cherie Johnson) and K.C. (Venus DeMilo Thomas), want her to lighten up and let loose more, and the best way to drop the good girl act would be to obtain a fake ID and visit a strip joint, appropriately named Club Buff. As expected of almost any sitcom with this setup, it also happens to be the night that Harriette, Rachel, and Estelle decide to have an evening out at the same establishment.

It's a classic setup that thrives on how both sets of women, younger and older, interact with and discuss what's going on in the club. Laura is still too uptight to enjoy herself and Estelle is a comfortable regular with her own table. These moments are incredibly fun and make for good entertainment. "Walk on the Wild Side" is also an episode that shows Laura and Harriette are not that different, which helps when Laura is caught trying to sneak out under a table, and the two share a moment at the end over a piece of chocolate cake.

Double date with Myra

Ted and Laura are upset that Steve keeps interrupting their dates, by doing stuff like dressing in disguises and telling Ted his car is on fire. They figure that the best way to deal with him is to get Urkel interested in another girl, so Ted offers up his cousin. Season four, episode 15's "A Thought in the Dark" introduces Myra Monkhouse (Michelle Thomas), an underrated character for the show that adds to the comedy elements and offers another cute foil for Steve and Laura's relationship. Before the two would become an item later on, she was debuted via a double date that left quite an impression and told the audience everything they needed to know about her.

Myra is as brainy as Steve, attractive like Laura, and she even appreciates his snort, making her another piece of the drama that fits in well. The two hit it off right away, but it's at the saxophone concert when we get to hear what each person on the date (and Waldo) is thinking. Romance begins to ramp up as everyone thinks about Ted's zit, but the back-and-forth humor culminates with Steve and Myra hitting the double Binaca shot just before a kiss. It's a fun moment and indicative of things to come. The moment is short-lived, as Steve stops the concert to give a passionate speech about Laura, but the audience is given a hint that Myra is sticking around, and that she's a bit obsessed.

The show goes to Disney World

Season six's two part storyline (episodes 22 and 23) saw Steve Urkel receive a free trip to Disney World as a finalist for an inventors' contest, where he'll be showing off his transformation chamber, turning into Stefan in an effort to impress the judges. Laura, desiring to spend more time with the sexier side of Steve in the happiest place on Earth, takes an opportunity to sabotage his machine and give her and Stefan a few extra days together. Most people forget about the whole sub-plot where Eddie and Waldo are lost and get their truck stolen, especially when the first episode of this two-parter ends with an almost perfect marriage proposal.

It's easy to be cynical and realize that Disney owns ABC, making this a giant promotional episode for the Disney parks, specifically showing off new attractions like the Tower of Terror, and a revamped Tomorrowland, but it's more satisfying to get lost in the episode and just enjoy seeing the characters in such a different, wonderful environment. That's what makes the moments from these two episodes, watching Stefan and the Winslow family embrace the magic there and enjoy their vacation. It was a big event episode in that sense and according to actor Jaleel White (Steve Urkel), "Black shows didn't get a chance to do those types of things back then," when discussing filming in Disney World. 

Carl confronts racist cops

Episode 15 of season five was a notable episode, but most viewers couldn't remember the sub-plot if their life depended on it. That's how powerful the rest of it is. Family Matters is a comedy that has many serious episodes, something many sitcoms delve into from time to time, but "Good Cop, Bad Cop" is possibly their best offering of drama. Eddie has lied about a ticket in the past, but his most recent citation came with some racial profiling. To make matters worse, Eddie thinks his father doesn't believe him and feels even more hurt, claiming it to be one of the worst things that has ever happened to him.

The scene that follows of Carl chastising two of his fellow officers in the coffee shop is a different feel for the show. It's dramatic, intense, and manages to prove a point without feeling completely bleak in the end, even if all they can do is file a complaint. This event shows Carl as a cop and as a concerned parent, who stands up for his son and tries to help a rookie cop as well, and it may be the character's finest moment. The situation strengthens the bond between the two family members in the end, after a passionate exchange. The confrontation is a moment that has been re-shared years later to show how the episode is still relevant, and it all came about because of something that happened in Darius McCrary's real life. 

Do the Urkel!

At some point the showrunners realized they had a hit on their hands, especially with the Urkel character, so how else would they lean into that hype over a month after Do the Bartman hit? It was time for a dance (and rap) number. In the season two episode "Life of the Party," Maxine is throwing a cool rooftop soiree, but no one is mingling or dancing. Steve takes it upon himself to liven up the affair by breaking it down and teaching everyone how to do it like him. It's quite the scene, with a performance that would make almost everyone smile, if not chuckle a bit. The segment created a clip that still speaks for itself. 

Do The Urkel was a hit, perhaps more as a spectacle and time capsule for the show, but people knew the song. The studio even brought in a Broadway dancer and choreographer to help the cast, but the kids were more interested in doing other dances rather than practicing. The rest of the episode sees one of the party crashers spike the punch and almost get Urkel killed when he falls off the roof and catches the ledge. Things almost got serious for a moment in the anti-drinking message, but it does, however, give Steve the opportunity to use the, "I've fallen and I can't get up," line.

My two TV dads

When discussing the best dads on television, Carl Winslow is often mentioned, but one man gets brought up just as much if not more. Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was quite the role model, played by the late, great James Avery, with his booming voice, wisdom, and tough parental love. So how could anyone ignore an instance when these two icons of the small screen met? The season five, episode 12 meeting only happens for a few seconds and isn't even a part of the story in any way, other than a gag where Little G admits to Richie that Carl does look like Uncle Phil and gives him money, but that's okay.

The episode "Scenes from the Mall" has a completely different focus on multiple smaller stories, but the portion during the end credits sets up James Avery walking onto the set when Little G says his line again. This gets a genuine surprise reaction from everyone, but is best demonstrated, of course, by Reginald VelJohnson, and it is clear how shocked he is at the sudden appearance of his contemporary. The moment does include someone introducing James Avery to the audience while VelJohnson motions to him with respect. It makes one wonder if more had been planned or if the reveal was even better than that. Still, it's an incredible sight to witness as a small, but awesome, meeting in television history.

King of cool, Stefan Urquelle

The title of the episode (S5 E8) is a nice play off of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to hint at the upcoming plot, but this take on the old tale is a lot smoother. Steve Urkel has always been a major dweeb, but he's also a genius, so why not just invent something to fix that. After Laura asks him to change due to extreme agitation, he creates a formula to do just that. It's pre-Transformation Chamber, just before things get really crazy. This makes Urkel the coolest he could possibly be, all in an effort to please Laura and finally win her over. It works almost perfectly, introducing the world to Stefan Urquelle.

Laura gets a small taste beforehand, but the big reveal happens at a party the Winslow kids are throwing. Everyone can't wait for Stefan to show up, with K.C. losing it a bit and the entire crowd rushing to the door whenever they think it might be him. When the main man does arrive, he says all the right things, is suave as can be, and dressed to impress. Urquelle puts on a clinic of cool, one that ends with Laura's passion taking over in a spectacular kiss. "Dr. Urkel and Mr. Cool" is a fun episode that show's Steve's debonair alter-ego, and how being cool doesn't always mean humble. Stefan would return many times later, but that first time always felt special.